top of page

2018 Field School


Dates: May 24 - Aug 9, 2018



Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society with a rich, but also troubled, history of religious, political and ethno-national conflict. This field school will involve two elements, a research component and a lecture-based conflict transformation component. The research component will involve students receiving intensive training in ethnographic research methods. Students will also be embedded in religious communities in Belfast, where they will apply their research training by collecting data (interviews and participant observation) in these communities. The other component of this program will be carried out in collaboration with the Queen's University Belfast Conflict Transformation Summer School. This portion of the program will involve learning about the history of theTroubles in Northern Ireland, as well as its post-conflict present, by comparing the strife between Catholics and Protestants with other ethno-religious conflicts around the world. This program includes a series of guest lectures ranging from experts in conflict and conflict resolution, to members from key social and political institutions on both sides of the 'sectarian divide.' Students will also take trips to key historical and cultural sights, both around Belfast and in other parts of Northern Ireland. This program will integrate this training in conflict transformation with the day-to-day ethnographic research that students are conducting with religious communities around Belfast. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty in this research process, and possibly participate in publications that come out of the research conducted on this program.

In past years, Dr. Jacob Hickman (one of the co-directors) has directed sessions of the field school in Northern Thailand in 2012, 2013, and 2017; in China and Vietnam in 2015; and in France in 2016. This research program will provide grounded ethnographic training to the student members of the research team while we conduct cutting-edge research on theoretically innovative topics. Students will receive mentored training in ethnographic research (including a broad array of social science methods) and use these skills to conduct fieldwork on various topics. This program is based in the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University, but this experience is relevant to a wide variety of research interests including art, Asian studies, folklore, history, law, linguistics, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, and sociology.

We are currently seeking applicants for student members of the research team. We will be spending approximately twelve weeks conducting fieldwork, but the team will also coordinate research planning together before the field to prepare for fieldwork, as well as after the field to work towards publishing the results, for those who wish to pursue this project further. This is an opportunity to get course credit and participate in a mentored research program. The program is run through the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University, and students will get anthropology course credit through BYU (which can potentially be transferred elsewhere). The thrust of this program is on learning and applying ethnographic research skills relevant to various social sciences and humanities disciplines. Coursework will therefore include credit for the training and research conducted on the program. This program will include students from various disciplines who are interested in gaining research skills and conducting original fieldwork in a mentored, team-based research environment.



A field school is a particular type of study abroad program that focuses on a mentored research experience in the communities where the field school is held. While all study abroad programs seek to integrate classroom learning with the resources available in the host country, field schools emphasize learning and applying research skills in order conduct fieldwork and to answer scholarly questions in various disciplines. Thus, the emphasis in a field school is on the research experience itself, rather than just mastering a body of content. Field school students design and conduct research projects under the mentorship of the program faculty. In other words, as students receive training they are also fully participating members of the research team. This includes learning and applying skills of data collection and analysis in order to address the research question. In addition to the cultural immersion experience, students come out of field school programs with valuable research and analysis skills (which go beyond the typical undergraduate training) that can be applied to a wide variety of disciplines and fields. For students looking to conduct original fieldwork for a thesis, this program offers an immersed fieldwork experience where one can draw upon the contact base and resources of the directing faculty to conduct thesis research.



This program will last 12 weeks and will be located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Students will be embedded in religious communities in Belfast. This immersive experience will facilitate the ethnographic research that we undertake during the summer. Regular lectures and discussion will provide the basis of the in-field training, but we will also attend community events and rituals together as team members as we collect and analyze data collaboratively.



Accepted students are required to participate in ANTHR 390R Field School Prep (1 credit hour). This course will be held during second block of Winter Semester 2018 (March-April). Remote participation in these courses (e.g., via Skype) can be arranged.

It is strongly recommended that BYU students take ANTHR 101 Social/Cultural Anthropology (3 credit hours) before participating in this program. Dr. Hickman will also be teaching "ANTHR 490R: The End of the World (as we know it)," Winter Semester 2018, a course on apocalyptic and utopian religious movements, that is recommended as an additional course to prepare students for this program.



BYU students who participate in this program and complete the suggested pre-requisite course (Anthr 101, which also fulfills 2 GE requirements) will have fulfilled all of the requirements for an Anthropology minor.

Students will typically take a total of 12 credit hours during the Spring/Summer program from the following courses:
ANTHR 390R Culture & History of Northern Ireland (3 credit hours)
ANTHR 490R Religion & Conflict Transformation (3 credit hours)
ANTHR 495R Ethnographic Field Project (3-6 credit hours)


Critically, all coursework in the program is centered around the research training and gaining theoretical and methodological knowledge that pushes the research forward. Participants will be registered as BYU students, and will receive BYU course credit. Students will be responsible for transferring credit to their home institutions, but the director can assist by providing syllabi or other course materials and justifications for students to arrange the transfer.



Housing will be arranged as part of the program. Students will stay at Queen's University housing or with host families.



--Approximately $6,800-$7,400 (final cost will be partially determined by the total number of enrolled students)

--The program fee includes the following expenses: tuition for the corresponding coursework (typically 12 credits, or a regular semester course load); lodging; international health insurance; and group travel.

--The program fee EXCLUDES (expenses students will take care of on their own): Airfare to and from Northern Ireland; most meals; personal travel.



The application deadline is December 1st. In order to apply, click here and start an application (for non-BYU students this link includes instructions on setting up a BYU NetID). Select the NORTHERN IRELAND: RELIGION AND CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION program for Spring/Summer 2018.


The application steps include:
1) Submit the supporting documents online. Complete letters of recommendation are not necessary. Rather, once you have started your online application, please email contact information for two references to (indicate the name of the program and your NetID), and they will add that reference information to your application.
2) Include the following in your letter of intent: Why you are interested in this program, the nature of your interest in religion and conflict transformation in particular, how this program would relate to your course of study, and please also describe any prior research experience and any other international experience that you may have.
3) Pay the application fee (the fee is collected by the Kennedy Center, which administers the application database).
4) Once the online application is complete, applicants will formally interview with one of the program directors. Students will be notified via email if they are accepted to the program.

Further information can be found at the above site or by contacting Dr. Jacob Hickman at

Information Meeting Scheduled for Wednesday, October 18th at 4:00pm (MST)

in 270 SWKT on the BYU Campus


If you are not able to attend in person, you can watch the session live at this Youtube Live Event Page. If you would like to ask a question during this session, please submit your question on the Youtube Live Event Page or text your question to Jacob Hickman's cell phone number listed on the right side of this page. You will also be able to watch an archive of the video here afterwards.

bottom of page